Tag Archive for: indigenous food

Merritt BC Gardening

Canadian’s Love to Garden in the Nicola Valley

Gardening Tips in Merritt BC 

Gardening in Merritt BC is about finding the right combination of sunlight, fertile soil, and water to make your plants thrive. It’s also about fulfilling your passion for life and nature, so select plants wisely, especially ones you can love back. Use available community resources if you can. Give life to our Merritt BC Canada stores like they are to your garden. Garden local as they say, and in no time you’ll have a beautiful garden, filled with colors, and smells no matter what level of gardening experience you have.   

Gardening in Merritt BC Canada

Sell your produce at a local farmer’s market. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Make Gardening in Merritt BC Enjoyable

Therefore, a good rule of a green thumb, is to not be intimidated by the process of how to start a garden and care for it successfully. Although,  there is a lot of groundwork involved, it is not work. It is quality time outdoors for body and mind. Deciding to the garden is the easy part, but the biggest decision is going ahead with the project. The benefits of “reaping what you sow” will lift you to the highest level of calling yourself a “Master Gardener” 

Gardening in Merritt spectators

Invite friends over! Photo by Tania Stewart

Advice for Essential Gardening in Merritt 

Do not overthink it. Planting and deciding to start a garden is easy, the upkeep is the hard part, but the result is truly magical.   

Gardening Merritt BC

Gardening In the Nicola Valley. Photo by Tania Stewart

Gardening In the Nicola Valley

It’s all about the dirt! Picture by Tania Stewart

Garden Location in the Nicola Valley

Starting a garden is just like real estate. It’s all about the location. Knowing where to plant, what to plant, and most importantly when to seed is crucial. Start by paying attention to the sunlight, where is it in the morning and where it goes in the evening. Secondly, how to space your seeds and what should be near what? Should your carrots be neighbors with lettuce or spuds?  Moreover, know your zone. This means, that the higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. If a plant is for zone 4, and your garden is zone 2, that plant will not survive. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun to thrive.

 

A Local Tip: “Never plant if there is snow on Iron Mountain, or before May long weekend,” Tania Stewart.

 

Invest in Good Gardening Tools

I cannot state enough how the right tools make working in your garden a pleasure instead of a chore. Here is some basic gardening equipment to get you going. 

  • Garden hoe
  • Scuffle hoe
  • Dirt rake
  • Leaf rake
  • Garden Shovel or D handle Shovel
  • Hand tools
  • Rototiller

Water Source

The best gardening tip you’ll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don’t have to lug water into it each time your plants get thirsty. Fact, the best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that’s about one knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Birds Merritt BC

Water well. Photo by Tania Stewart

Flowers in Merritt BC

Bee’s love flowers. Photo by Tania Stewart

Do Not Forget To Plant Flowers

Bees need flowers. Throughout the world, people have taken on the fight for the survival of our “Bees”.  Merritt BC Canada is no different. Every day more and more people are becoming more aware of how important these hard-working honey makers are to our survival. Not to mention, without bees, the availability and diversity of fresh produce would decline substantially, and human nutrition would likely suffer. For more information on this subject,  Bee/honey makers Experience in the Nicola Valley

Flowering plants in Nicola Valley

Some flowers block pests. Photo by Tania Stewart

Sunflowers and Bees

Sunflowers are essential for gardens. Photo by Tania stewart

It Is All In The Soil

What do you really know about your garden soil? If you can try to invest in nutrient-rich soil. Test your soil to see if it’s acidic, alkaline, or neutral PH. Is it rocky, sandy clay, or just a mix of all? Does your soil have a good amount of basic nutrients?  This is something my avid gardening father takes seriously. 

Gardening as a family

Watching the garden grow. Photo by Tania Stewart

Learn your frost dates

Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don’t accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It’s also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before fall frost damages them.  

Gardening plot in merritt bc

Tomato plants. Photo by Tania Stewart

Tomato plants in Merritt BC

Safe Tomato plants. Picture by Tania Stewart

 

One can not stress the importance of your “Planting Groundwork!” Take extra care in the beginning, and the result is what you reap.

 

The result.

Planting with Care

Once you have done the groundwork, next is planting. Do not hesitate to ask neighbors where to purchase your seeds. Albeit the rule of thumb when planting seeds is roughly 3 times deep as the size of the seed. Unless otherwise directed on the package. When transplanting, usually you will plant at the same depth as they were growing in the pot. Important to note, that tomatoes can be planted deeper.

Gardening and lawn care

Garden maintenance. Photo by Tania Stewart

Preparing a garden in BC Canada

Preparing your garden. Photo by Tania Stewart

 

Consider containers when gardening Merritt BC.

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. Planting tomatoes can be tricky. Using potting containers is sometimes ideal for small spaces as well as maturing them enabling their survival. Strawberries can also thrive well in containers. 

 

Strawberry net. Photo by Tania Stewart

Warning!

Every garden, may want to cover and protect from winged bandits! Birds love the sweetness of the berry, covering them will protect your plants and keep deer from eating the flowers and destroying the growth. Most important this is a safe non-chemical deterrent to natural pests. If you spray it, you will eat it!

 

Bird Bandits. Photo by Tania Stewart

Mulch is Great

Weeds suck the life out of plants, mulch helps reduce these nasty veg killers. Apply a layer of mulch that’s 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. Help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to be waterless.  

 

Gardening Merritt BC.

Reap what you sow. Photo by Tania Stewart

Reaping mounds of veggies

Nurture your garden in the Nicola Valley

Take it from me, my father is the best fertilizer, he is the garden’s shadow. Most important is to be prepared to make time to tend to your plants. Depending on the size of your garden, time requirements may range from a few minutes of weeding, and watering, to a full-time day job. Watering your plants, as a rule of thumb need around one inch of water per week. 

 

Be proud of your endeavors. Picture by Tania Stewart

Potato salad?

 

Gardening Merritt BC.

Truly the first fruit is the Strawberry. Moreover, being the first and the sweetest. June welcomes this favorite berry.  British Columbia has native strawberries throughout, just waiting for you to pick and enjoy their a burst of sweet flavor.  

Starting with great soil, with regular water, will make your plants very happy. Bill Stewart.

 

berry picking merritt bc

Strawberry delight. Photo by Tania Stewart

pie, home made, strawberry custard

Completely homemade strawberry custard pie.

Bugs and Disease 

When gardening in the Nicola Valley beware of bugs. Moreover, bugs are more attracted to plants that are stressed or in some way deficient. If you have healthy, well-nourished plants, your pest problems should be minimal. Noteworthy, for most problems, there’s an organic solution. If you’re going through all the effort to grow your food, why would you want to put toxins on it? Overwatering is almost more harmful than underwatering. 

 

Happy times! Photo by Tania Stewart

What’s up! Photo Tania Stewart

In conclusion Gardening Merritt BC.

 Extra produce from your garden? Try selling produce at your local farmers’ market or donate to the food bank.

Gardening in Merritt BC Canada

Nicola Valley Gardens, Gardening, and Gardeners 

 

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Outdoor Berry Picking in Merritt BC

Picking Berries in the Nicola Valley, Spring, Summer and Fall 

Outdoor family fun while picking berries around Merritt BC

 

As a consequence of the Nicola Valley’s dry climate we have many  berries 

Outdoor Berry Picking in Merritt BC –  Celebrate this time of year with your family and head out on a wild berry picking adventure in Merritt BC. Harvesting wild berries can strengthen your connection to the land and it is a great opportunity to be active outside with family and friends. Not to mention how great those berry’s will taste, after all everything tastes so much better when you’ve harvested it with your own hands. First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries. So many Canadian Berries! Outdoor berry picking around the Nicola Valley can make a bad day into a good day one berry at a time. 

“A picking here, a picking there, here a pick, there a pick, everywhere a pick-pick.” Berry quotes.

Outdoor Berry Picking Merritt BC.

Can you almost taste it? Photo by Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Berry Picking Merritt BC.

My favourite, raspberry! Photo Tania Stewart.

Strawberry’s along with Raspberry’s Make For Good Outdoor Berry Picking Merritt BC

Albeit summer is truly a time of picking fresh berries. Whether in your garden or in the wild. Eating faster than you pick,  hands stained with juice, and smiles of enjoyment. Hard to imagine, but you can enjoy the ancestors of our modern-day ruby red strawberries in our wild meadows, roadsides, woods and coastline. British Columbia has native strawberries throughout, just waiting for you to pick and enjoy their a burst of sweet flavour.  

Outdoor Berry Picking Around The Nicola Valley, Spring, Summer and Fall

https://curious.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/native-strawberries-wild-ancestors-of-our-delicious-cultivated-fruit/

Outdoor family fun time picking wild berries around Merritt BC 

You can find wild strawberries almost everywhere in our province except in Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands), though it is much more common in the interior than along the coast. Indeed almost any open habitat, except bogs, supports wild strawberries, but the most favoured habitat has to be the open roadside, where clearing and scraping have created an ideal growing environment.

https://curious.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/native-strawberries-wild-ancestors-of-our-delicious-cultivated-fruit/

Wild strawberries make excellent jam as well the leaves can be used for anti-diarrhea. but getting enough berries is a challenge.

Outdoor Berry Picking Around The Nicola Valley, Spring, Summer and Fall

Canned Jam. Photo Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Fun Time Berry Picking in Merritt BC.

Leaf form and texture are helpful in identifying native strawberries. Many teeth typically line the edge of strawberry leaflets. Wild strawberry leaflets are often bluish green and the terminal tooth of each leaflet is usually shorter (smaller) than or equal to adjacent teeth. Wood strawberry has a terminal tooth that is larger and longer than adjacent teeth. Wood strawberry leaflets tend to be a bit softer and more yellowish than wild strawberry leaflets.

If you like to pick berries. Then you’ll want to know how to identify a few of these tasty treats. Tania Stewart.

Red Current Berries.

Firstly Red Current Berries can easily be identified due to their bright translucent red. Secondly , they are sour but palatable, even more sour than black currant’s. Thirdly, plant’s are about waist high. They tend to be growing in swamps, moist coniferous forests and rocky mountain slopes. Bring your bug spray along with H2O on every berry picking adventure.

Flowering/Red/Black – The berries, flowers and leaves are all edible. The berries make a great sauce for duck especially when combined with oranges as a marmalade.

Outdoor Berry Picking Around The Nicola Valley, Spring, Summer and Fall

Red Current.. the blossoms are tasty too.

Wild Blueberry

Additionally, wild blueberries are smaller than the commercial berries, but very delicious. Wild blueberry can be confused with blue huckleberries, but both are edible. Throw some of these tasty berries into your salad. Blueberries are the king of antioxidant foods, low in calories but high in nutrients. May help protect against aging and cancer. It is hard to argue with the strength of the “Blueberry”.

Blueberries.

Not to mention 

Berries have been an important part of First Nations and Aboriginal culture in BC for thousands of years. They have been used for both food and medicine. As a food, wild berries are nutritious and delicious. They can be eaten out of hand, tossed into a salad, added to baked goods, or be turned into jam or jelly. Bannock slathered with wild blueberry jam! Can you taste it now.

Saskatoon Berries

Saskatoon berries.

Berries are wild

Wild berries thrive in many different climates throughout Canada Eh.  They’re packed with nutrients and powerful plant compounds. Though wild berries can be tart, they’re quite versatile and can be enjoyed in many ways. Wild huckleberries grow in mountainous regions, forests, bogs, and lake basins in Northwestern America and Western Canada. The berries are small and either red, blue, or black. Ripe huckleberries are fairly sweet with a little tartness.

What about Choke Cherries?

First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries. Gerome Garcia.

Chokecherries I picked. Photo by Gerome Garcia

In Conclusion.

Come enjoy our sunshine and outdoor berry picking around Merritt BC. Celebrate this time of year with gathering up your family and head out on a wild berry picking adventure. Harvesting wild berries can strengthen your connection to the land and is a great opportunity to be active outside with family and friends. Not to mention how great those berry’s will taste, after all everything tastes so much better when you’ve harvested it with your own hands.  

When berry picking there are a few rules you should follow. Firstly, leave no trace behind. Secondly, do not pick if you do not identify the species of berry. There are berries which are not safe to eat. Know the difference. Lastly, bears like berries too. Always be bear aware when picking berries in the backcountry. 

Berry Picking in Merritt BC

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One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe, Merritt, BC

“Don’t panic….we have bannock”

One of the best places to eat in Merritt is Kekuli Cafe. “Don’t panic… we have Bannock” is the official slogan of Kekuli Cafe in Merritt BC. A wonderful place to enjoy a number of indigenous foods.

Before we dive into the amazing food I’d like to treat you to a look at the amazing skor bannock. You have got to try one.

skor bannock kekuli cafe merritt bc

Ohhh so yummy Skor bannock from Kekuli Cafe

How Kekuli was born?

It all started when for many years Sharon Bond wanted to own her own restaurant. Having a passion for cooking, baking and making people feel welcome. Sharon also had a passion for helping and pleasing people.

With all the other places to eat in Merritt Sharon knew she wanted to create a place like no other. Therefore that’s exactly what she did.

The Cafe

Sharon wanted a traditional cultural aboriginal ambiance. Low light pow wow music, aboriginal art, jewelry and of course aboriginal cuisine. She wanted a place where everyone would feel welcome and acknowledged. Along with her husband Darren Hogg they created one of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe.

You definitely feel welcomed from the moment you walk in the doors of Kekuli Cafe.

The Name Kekuli.

It was quite interesting to find out where the name Kekuli came from. Sharon was looking for a unique name that would have an aboriginal flair to it. While reading a book by James Teit she came across the word “kekuli” which means house. Right away she knew that was the name and sent in paperwork to have it registered that day. 

The Thompson Indians used to live in these pit house( Kekuli’s)  hundreds of years ago.  These houses are build into the ground with logs, tule, dirt and grass. They were a safe, warm and happy place. That also protected the people from the elements during harsh winters.

You can still find Kekuli’s throughout the Thompson/Okanagan areas.

Kekuli Cafe pit house bannock

Photo Credit: Kekuli Cafe

Now however you can also find that warm inviting feeling of home in every Kekuli Café.

Franchise

The next step in Sharon and Darren’s endeavor was to start creating franchises. With the first being sold in December of 2018.

On Dec 1, 2018 Elijah Mack, just 22 years old, started living his dream by becoming the very first Kekuli franchise owner.  When asked what he wanted to be in 10 years he would say “I want to be my own boss.” Now Elijah is the proud owner of one of the best places to eat in Merritt.

Kekuli Cafe franchise owner

Photo credit Kekuli Cafe

Saskatoon ice tea is wonderful and refreshing treat any time of year. I love the flavor. Makes me want another one just thinking about it. My daughters favorite it the saskatoon berry smoothie.

Kekuli Cafe saskatoon ice tea

Saskatoon berry ice tea. It was so refreshing.

They have a variety of Bannock available and some amazing lunches. Fry bread tipi tacos, grilled Bannock flatbread, bannowiches, and a variety of salads. Check out their menu here.

Lunch

Oh my goodness, look at this amazing meal. So nice to have a place where everything is made fresh with fresh ingredients.

bannock blt

BLT Bannock with cran apple feta salad

BLT bannock fresh

BLT bannock at Kekuli

This BLT bannock was so amazing. The bannock was soft and warm, lettuce and tomato were fresh and no skimping on the bacon which was cooked to perfection. Must say this was the best BLT I have had in a very long time. Along with my BLT I chose to have the cranberry, apple and feta salad. It was so crisp and fresh. Accompanying the salad was a saskatoon vinaigrette dressing made in house.  Perfect for this salad. 

salad cranberry apple feta

Cranberry, apple and feta salad.

Desert I had a skor bannock. It was so fresh and I have to say better than any doughnut I have ever had. I was very tempted to buy a whole bunch of them to take home. 

Happy customers

While I was visiting there were a group from White Rock who stopped in for lunch. They were extremely thrilled with the service. One lady spoke of how Kurt, chief at Kekuli Cafe, resonated such happy vibes. They really appreciated it and would come back again for sure.

Look at these happy faces.

kekuli cafe great food eat merritt

Guests from Whiterock having lunch at Kekuli in Merritt, BC

 The Staff

When you walk into Kekuli Cafe you are greeted by the amazing staff.  They always have a smile on their faces and are ready to help you any way they can.

staff kekuli cafe

Amanda and Kurt staff at Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe isn’t just on of the best places to eat in Merritt. Friday nights they have open mic night where patrons can come and express themselves over the mic. They have had people sing, tell stories or say a poem. It’s a great way to spend some time with friends, enjoy the local talent and of course have some coffee and bannock.

So far I have tried the traditional, cinnamon sugar and skor. What kinds have you tried?

Art work

Something else you will find a Kekuli Cafe is some art from a local artist Wyatt Collins. Wyatt has such a flair for life and creates some wonderful artwork which is featured on the walls of Kekuli Cafe. There are also greeting cards with Wyatt’s artwork on them. 

local art merritt bc kekuli cafe

Art work by local artist Wyatt Collins

Other aboriginal products

There are a number of aboriginal items for sale at Kekuli Café. Some of them include Jams, jellies, coffee, pottery and cards. Stop in and have a look.

Kekuli Cafe Merritt BC

Some other offerings from Kekuli Cafe

If you are interested in having a blog showcasing your business please feel free to contact me at Experience Nicola Valley.  I would love to chat.

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe